Senior Comp and Lit
May, 1 2018
She Walks in Beauty
How would you define true beauty? Or can it be defined at all? In the poem She walks
in beauty by Lord Byron, the author uses the literary devices of similes, alliteration, and
metaphors to describe the many forms of beauty in the woman he desires. The poem is written in
iambic tetrameter and is centered around the theme of beauty. However while the woman he
describes is physically beautiful in his eyes, he speaks of her aura of beauty; her inner beauty
that shines through blinding out the darkness of the days, creating an equally wonderful exterior.
Byron describes the woman as innocent, pure, and all the best of dark and night” (line 3). He
sees her as having a unique and unfathomable allure.
The poem was written in 1815 after seeing his cousin Lady Wilmot Horton. Throughout
it Byron compares the naturally gorgeous features of the woman to the environment surrounding
him. The first stanza of the poem describes the physical appearance of the woman. Byron starts
the poem with, She walks in beauty, like the night/ Of cloudless climes and starry skies;.”(1-2)
The poet creates an image of a dark, clear sky with twinkling stars, and makes a contrast between
brightness and darkness. The image created by this contrast represents the dress the woman is
wearing, a black dress with sparkles on it. In the next line, And all that’s best of dark and bright/
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:,”(3-4) we see how the opposite characteristic of dark and light
create what he sees as a perfect harmony within the lady.With the inclusion of the terms
mellowed” and tender light”, contradicted by gaudy days”, the woman that the poet is
praising is in great balance. Opposites meet in the woman to create a soft and innocent image.
The second stanza of ?She Walks in Beauty ? continues to praise the woman’s appearance,
but starting from line 11, the poet begins to speak on the woman’s personality. In the phrase
Had half impaired the nameless grace,”(8) the poet tells us that the woman’s face is in such a
perfect portion that just a slight change would damage it. We could also understand that the
woman has a black hair from the expression Which waves in every raven tress,.”(9) Compared
with the time when Byron wrote this poem, black hair” which this woman has is extraordinary.
This distinctiveness adds the woman’s beauty, as she distinguishes herself from others. Lastly, in
the last two lines, Where thoughts serenely sweet express/ How pure, how dear their
dwelling-place.,”(11-12) we start to see how the woman’s inner beauty is reflected in her
appearance. With this perfect inner quality added to her eternal beauty, the woman becomes
more perfect as she possesses beauty inside out.
The last stanza also talks both about the woman’s inner and outer characteristics. Her
cheek and her smiles are beautiful. In the phrases days in goodness spent,”(16) mind at
peace,”(17) and heat whose love is innocent,”(18) we understand that the woman’s inner
thoughts are also as pure and graceful just as her appearance. As in previous stanzas, he once
again shows the theme of this poem, which is the woman’s physical beauty along with her
To summarize, the overall tone of ?She Walks in Beauty ? is soft and calm, quite different
with the image we have about poet, Lord Byron. Perhaps this extreme contrast between the
lovely poem and the author who have lived a dissipated lifestyle makes the poem touches us
stronger. We could vividly feel how strong Byron’s admiration of the woman was. Use of soft
and simple languages rather than heavy, intellectual words is also significant, as it demonstrates
the pure, easily noticeable beauty of the woman. The woman portrayed in this poem must have
been truly beautiful to catch Byron’s attention at once, and make him write such a vivid poem.